When preparing for divorce, many couples get ready for significant conflict, and they may resign themselves to having difficult arguments about issues such as their finances, the property they own, their living situations, and their children. However, a divorce does not have to be full of anger and animosity, and in some cases, a couple may agree that since ending their marriage is best for everyone involved, they will work together to complete the divorce process with minimal conflict.
An amicable, uncontested divorce may seem like an ideal solution that will allow legal issues to be addressed and resolved quickly and effectively. However, couples will still need to be aware of the procedures that must be followed in these cases, as well as the steps they can take to avoid potential problems that may arise in the future. Even though a couple may be looking to minimize expenses and resolve matters outside of court, it is a good idea for each spouse to have their own attorney who will represent their interests, address potential legal issues, and help them complete the divorce process effectively.
At [[title]], we can provide the legal help you need in an uncontested divorce, ensuring that you meet all legal requirements to legally dissolve your marriage while also advising you on the best steps you can take to protect your rights and interests. We can provide guidance on how to resolve any disputes that may arise, and we will advocate on your behalf while negotiating the terms of your divorce settlement, ensuring that you will be able to move forward successfully once your divorce is complete.
Beginning the Uncontested Divorce Process
Your divorce may officially begin when one spouse files a petition for dissolution of marriage in the appropriate county court. However, you may have begun planning for divorce prior to taking this step, or you and your spouse may have already separated. If you are planning to have an amicable split, the two of you may have discussed how certain issues will be handled, and you may have agreed on various matters related to your property or the custody of your children. While these agreements may help you avoid conflict as you end your marriage, they will not be legally binding until they are addressed in court.
Either spouse may file a divorce petition, and if you are still living together, this petition will be filed in the county court where your home is located. If you have already separated, the divorce petition may be filed in the county where either spouse lives. After the petition is filed, the other spouse will be required to file a court appearance or response.
A divorce petition will include requests for temporary relief, which will ask the court to make decisions about how various matters will be handled during the divorce process. These requests may address issues related to ownership of marital property, child custody, and financial support. The other spouse may also make requests when they file their response to the divorce petition. If you and your spouse have already reached agreements on these issues, the decisions you have made may be set down in a temporary order by the judge in your case, and you will be able to move forward with the divorce process.
The Discovery Phase
The next step to take during your divorce involves discovery, in which you will compile all relevant information about your case to ensure that you will be able to make decisions about the issues involved in the end of your marriage. During discovery, each spouse will make a full financial disclosure to the other party, providing information about income, assets, and debts. This will ensure that both you and your spouse fully understand the financial issues involved in your marriage, and it will help you make decisions about property division and support payments.
In addition to financial disclosures, the discovery phase may also involve exchanging any documents that may be relevant to your divorce, including tax returns and paperwork related to property you own, such as your home or vehicles. Other relevant documents may include bank statements, appraisals of valuables that you own, information about retirement benefits, or bills and other records that may be used to establish ongoing expenses.
If necessary, your or your spouse’s attorney may request information from the other party. These requests may take the form of interrogatories that seek to obtain clarification about certain issues or requests for disclosure that ask for certain records to be turned over. In some divorce cases, spouses may be asked to participate in depositions, or subpoenas may be used to require spouses or other parties to turn over certain documents. However, these methods will most likely not be necessary if you and your spouse are seeking to complete your divorce amicably.
Methods for Addressing Divorce-Related Issues and Resolving Disputes
As you work to complete an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse will need to reach agreements on all outstanding issues in your case. This includes creating a property settlement that will fully detail how all of your marital assets will be divided. If you have children, you will need to make decisions about how you will share parental responsibilities and create schedules detailing when the children will spend parenting time with each of you. You will also need to determine the child support obligations that will apply for both of you, including how you will divide various child-related expenses. If one spouse will need financial assistance to meet their ongoing needs, you may determine whether spousal support will be appropriate.
Even if you have agreed to resolve these matters as amicably as possible, determining the best solutions is not always easy. You may use several methods to address these issues, including:
Mediation – In many cases, spouses can benefit by working together with a neutral mediator to address their various divorce-related issues and come to agreements. Mediation can offer a productive and cost-effective way to work through divorce matters, and it also allows you and your spouse to have control over the decisions that will affect your future. While the mediator can offer guidance on the issues that need to be addressed and provide suggestions for how certain matters may be resolved, all decisions will be left up to you and your spouse. Mediation is also completely confidential, and you can be assured that you will be able to discuss issues openly and work together with your spouse to find amicable, cooperative solutions to all of the issues that you will need to address to end your marriage.
Collaborative law – With this option, you, your spouse, and your attorneys will work to negotiate a divorce settlement that addresses all outstanding issues in your case. While this process will involve back-and-forth communication as you each decide how various matters will be handled, you will agree to cooperate as much as possible, be open and honest with each other, and provide any requested information promptly. You will also make a commitment to resolve your divorce without going to court, and you and your attorneys will sign an agreement stating that if you cannot reach a settlement, and litigation will be required to resolve any outstanding issues, both attorneys will withdraw from the case, and you and your spouse will need to seek legal representation elsewhere. This will encourage all parties to resolve issues cooperatively and amicably.
Attorney-assisted negotiation – If you and your spouse do not expect to encounter conflict, or if your divorce will not involve significant legal or financial issues, you may work with your attorneys to negotiate the terms of your divorce settlement without the need to hold discussions in a formal setting. During the negotiation process, your lawyer can assist with developing potential solutions for outstanding divorce issues and presenting them to your spouse, and they can also advocate for your best interests and make sure your settlement meets all applicable legal requirements.
Finalizing an Uncontested Divorce
After you and your spouse have reached an agreement on all aspects of your divorce, the decisions you have made will be set down in a divorce settlement. This document will outline all of the terms of the divorce, including details about how your marital property will be divided and the amount and duration of any support payments that one spouse will pay to the other. If you have children, your settlement will include a parenting plan that will detail how different areas of decision-making responsibility will be allocated between the two of you, while also providing a parenting time schedule that addresses both day-to-day parenting time and vacations and holidays and setting down any other rules that you and your spouse will follow as you work together to raise your children.
To finalize your divorce, you will attend a “prove-up” hearing where you will submit your settlement agreement. At this hearing, the judge will review your paperwork to ensure that it meets all requirements and addresses all outstanding issues. If there are no issues in dispute, the judge will typically grant your divorce at this hearing. Your settlement will become a legally binding divorce decree, and both of you will be required to follow its terms going forward.
Benefits of an Uncontested Divorce
Uncontested divorces tend to be less expensive and less stressful than other types of divorces. If you and your spouse agree to work together amicably, you will usually be able to avoid attending court hearings, filing requests for temporary relief, or asking a judge to decide how matters will be handled during your case. By creating a settlement, you can avoid litigation, which can be very costly and time-consuming. Depending on the complexity of the issues that you will need to resolve, you may be able to complete an uncontested divorce within a few months while minimizing your legal expenses.
Contact Our Elmhurst Uncontested Divorce Attorneys
If you are planning to end your marriage, resolving divorce-related issues amicably may be an ideal solution. By minimizing conflict, you can avoid the emotional issues that are often involved in a contentious split, and you can find solutions that will allow you and your spouse to move forward successfully after your marriage has ended.
However, it is still important to work with an attorney in these situations. Without legal help, you may fail to address important issues in your divorce, and this may delay the completion of the divorce process and result in additional legal expenses. If you do not have a legal advocate on your side, you may agree to terms that do not protect your best interests, and you could place yourself in a difficult situation that will affect your ability to meet your needs after your marriage has ended.
At [[title]], our skilled DuPage County uncontested divorce lawyers can help you navigate the process of settling issues with your spouse and finalizing your divorce. We will address any concerns that you may have, advise you of your rights, help you negotiate favorable terms in your divorce settlement, and make sure all legal issues are handled properly. Contact us today at [[phone]] for a confidential consultation.